DANCING WITH THE STARS Steams up Motown
DANCING WITH THE STARS implemented new features into the competition to spice up another performance broadcast. For the first time in the show's history, contestants danced to the hits of Motown - while the original tracks' artists sang live. The Motown inspired special began with a montage of performances by the soulful legends: Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, and The Temptations. In additions, contestants this week also partook in a dance-off to rack up extra bonus points to be put towards their overall score.
Gladys Knight & Tristan MacManus
With a themed week tailored perfectly to Knight's musical background, everything seemed to be working in the empress' favor. The soulful funk of an altered Rumba, tuned to The Temptation's "My Girl" could have been a big 'ol hit for Knight. But some moves rumbling beats behind the song, with Knight and MacManus donning some violet garb became a purple-y promenade fit for only the most low-budget school dances. And it had once seemed, so many DANCING nights ago, that Knight's heart and previous expertise with rhythm might Rumba her to the top of the female competitors. "I wish I could just judge with my heart," said head judge Len Goodman, who made it known she was not one of the best dancers in the competition - though seconds later called the routine fabulous (What?). "If any night should have belonged to anyone, this night could have belonged to you," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba, "but the truth is, there were some messed up moments."
Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
"Classy. That's what I'm all about," said Menounos (who moments later made a poop joke), who vowed to leave all signs of sexy behind, replacing it with some old fashioned class. Looking like a sequined Cinderella, Menounos and Hough gave a frolic of a Fox-Trot that judge Bruno Tonioli called a "gleaming blend of sophistication, wit, and elegance." Mis-steps aside, Menounos brought in, once again, a very solid score.
Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Though Fegan acknowledged he lacked the sensuality and power of fellow contestants Driver and Levy, he's usually got the precision that both occasionally struggle to find. But the energetic precision Fegan has come to trademark on the DANCING stage became a "paint by numbers" routine according to Len. The normal passion, inspiring and seemingly improvised, was more of a calculated, impersonal sectioned-off dance, he said.
Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
The Temptations steered the initial power of Jenkins' Samba - but she and Ballas shortly took the reigns. The Sherri Shepherd Sass, missed so dearly from the DANCING stage since her early departure, had somehow manifested within Jenkins, the Welsh wonder of the show. "I'm going to call you 'The Midwife'," Len declared, and all awkward titles aside, it's true: Katherine Jenkins, without fail, delivers week after week. "You let it loose," Carrie Ann said, "it was amazing!" Once again, Jenkins has found herself with another 29, and once again, at the top of the competition.
Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
Hungry for a 10 from Len, Driver and Murgatroyd became the funky duo in blue. In a routine hinged on confidence and power, Driver is proving he's capable of taking on any other competitor with his natural talent. "You were so in your zone," said Carrie Ann, while Len, who was hoping for "fireworks," was treated to an "explosion." And though he didn't manage to score a 10 by any judge, it was hardly a routine to scoff at.
Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Viennese Waltz
"You need to do better," said Gilbert's partner Chmerkovskiy. "I'm tired of 7s." And though their harsh banter has become a staple in their dynamic, he speaks the (blatant) truth. In rehearsal footage, it was seen that Gilbert had a rough time learning this week's routine and was constantly butting heads with Chmerkovskiy, who had little to no patience with her slow-learning speed. Though a tad drab, it would be hard to label Gilbert's performance anything than her best. "You work so hard, and it's starting to really pay off," said Carrie Ann, "I see the artistry." For the first time in weeks, she was in control, and is finally, "going in the right direction," according to Bruno.
Jaleel White & Kym Johnson
White has undoubtedly faded a bit in the past few weeks of the competition. After a dazzling show-opener during DANCING's first week, White has made a few missteps, both on the stage and in his technique, but partner, Johnson, maintains her faith in him. There was a definite sharp attitude throughout the routine, reminiscent of all that Motown stood for. If any competitor encapsulated the energy, feel, and air that Motown created, it was White. "You're back," said Len, while Bruno declared: "You burned this floor, it was the biggest sizzler of the season - you've come back. Big time."
William Levy & Cheryl Burke
Levy and Burke were determined to bring the steam, the fire, the passion to their Rumba. "William, that was absolute and utter filth," Bruno said, "and I loved every minute of it." By this point in the competition, every audience member knows the typical praise Levy gets just for showing up. And though the performance was tepid (no more than a moderate boil) it was hardly his best routine, said Carrie Ann. "You aren't just a pretty face, you're a beautiful dancer," she said, while Len echoed her sentiments.
The contestant's endurance was tested during a classic Motown dance-off, in which they'd be competing for additional bonus points to be added to their original score. The last dancer standing would be rewarded 10 points, the second to last 9, and so on. Each cha-cha-ing duo was eventually knocked off by the judges until Jenkins, White, and Levy remained. In the end, it was frontrunner Jenkins who claimed the coveted 10 points. Though beneficial to the competitors themselves, it was undoubtedly nice to see the stagnant 2-hour broadcast mixed up to a greater degree.
Be sure to check out BroadwayWorld's coverage of tomorrow night's results show, featuring additional performances by the legends of Motown!